Manchester: Beckham bid an emotional farewell to Old Trafford before he quits European soccer for the United States. Â He joined United in 1991 at 16, debuted the next year, and transferred in 2003 to Real Madrid. Â In July, he's expected to start a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer. Â "The time I spent at this club was the best time in my whole football career," Beckham told the crowd at a charity match won 4-3 by United over a Europe XI on Tuesday. Â Injury forced him to withdraw from a star-studded European side. It faced United to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Union and the Red Devils' half century of play in continental soccer. Â Captain of England Since he moved to Spain, the 31-year-old had returned to the stadium in northwest England as England captain. But he hadn't been able to personally thank United for 14 trophy-filled years. Â "I have waited four years to actually come back and to actually say thank you to the fans and the people of the club," he said. Â Beckham won six English Premier League titles and a Champions League medal during his United career. Â He told supporters that he was grateful for the strong support shown in his darkest hour. In 1998 he became a public hate figure after being sent off for England in a World Cup match against Argentina. Â "I think I wouldn't have got through many things without the people in this stadium," he said.Â Â Â Â Â Welcome for Beckham Â On the pitch, he publicly supported his former manager AlexÂ Ferguson who struck Beckhams' eye with a football boot in a dressing room bust-up on the eve of his departure. Â Ferguson wasn't surprised at the welcome for Beckham.Â Â Â Â Â Â "I was in the changing rooms but you expect him to get a reception like that," Ferguson said. "All players get a great reception when they come back here." Â "David Beckham had some great years here. He came as a boy; all his formative years were here. It was a great learning foundation here before he went to Madrid." Â This season, United is on the verge of emulating the historic treble, which Beckham won in 1999. Â The team leads the Premier League by nine points and remains inÂ contention for the Champions League and FA Cup.